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Should Referendums Be Abolished?
Referendums can lead to a
tyranny of the majority
The uncompromising character of referendums favors the majority to the disadvantage of minorities.
Especially in large countries, any vote being based purely on approval of the majority is dangerous, given it could sway votes in favor of populations that are cluttered in small areas. Therefore, it acts mostly in favor of a segment of the population usually not in touch with the rest.
In diverse communities people may vote on referendums that don't directly affect their lives but do affect the autonomy and justice experienced by others. All whilst looking like democracy has been enhanced with an extra voting exercise.
Referendums ignore minority rights in favour of populist sentiment.
Just because the tyranny of the majority is a possible outcome makes it neither likely nor inevitable. This warning therefore represents a
slippery slope fallacy
: just because a bad outcome can happen does not mean that it will happen.
Referendums can equally lead to a tyranny of the minority when relatively small segments of society wield disproportionate influence over politics.
Allowing referendums and risking the dominance of a majority is a lesser problem than abolishing referendums and silencing the majority.
got legalized by popular vote in 2015. This clearly shows that the majority can foster minorities' rights.
If a referendum only has a small regional application, it will be more targeted and less prone to a "tyranny of the majority".
Any democracy can lead to a tyranny of the majority - if people wanted to they could vote into power a political party that would oppress minorities without a referendum.